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Protect Yourself from Injury When You Exercise

bicycle safetyFirst thing’s first: avoid getting hurt

Maybe you’ve finally taken the first step in committing to a new exercise regime. (Or maybe you’re still working up to it.) But before you get all “gung-ho,” take time to learn how you can avoid injury— especially if you’re venturing into a new activity. There’s nothing more discouraging—or painful—than an injury that derails your new exercise plan. Enthusiasm is great to get you started, but being over-zealous can bring everything to a screeching halt. With potentially long-term consequences.

Why people get hurt

Fitness experts suggest supporting your body as it adapts to this new change you’re imposing. People get hurt by exercising in a way that over stresses the body, not doing things with proper technique, or not allowing the body enough time to recover between exercises. What’s the solution? Pick an activity you know something about, or work with a trainer that can check your form. He or she can also help you build a plan to work different muscles on different days, so you avoid risk of injury through over-use (and not enough rest) of different muscle groups. Make sure you’re working towards an achievable goal. For someone who just started running, working up to a 5K race (a little over 3 miles) is much smarter than looking towards a marathon.

Be selective

Ask your doctor if there are specific sports or exercises you should or shouldn’t do. Avoid an exercise that’s going to aggravate an existing condition. For example, if you already have knee pain—or even a twinge—when you walk, then running isn’t a smart choice. But something low-impact, like swimming, may be great.

Why people get injured

Accidents do happen, but more often people get hurt by trying to do too much too soon, or by doing things with poor technique, and/or using the wrong equipment.

Some precautionary steps to take

Incorporate the following into your exercise routine:

  • Warm-up and cool-down. Before and after exercise, give your heart, lungs, and muscles time to adapt to change. Research suggests that improved flexibility can improve your health—especially as we age. So make some time.
  • Rest. Get enough rest between your workouts. You need your muscles to recover before you stress them again. If you do get injured—or even if you experience a little twinge in a joint—allow yourself time to recover without putting more strain or stress on the vulnerable area. Seek out other exercise options that will help keep you fit and active without stressing your injury. This is the secret to an exercise routine you can sustain over many years.

We hope this post has inspired you to be more mindful about how you treat your body when you’re working out. If you take care of yourself, you can have years of satisfying physical activity ahead of you—which can support you emotionally and mentally and pay dividends in all aspects of your life!

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This post is part of the weekly blog of the Harris School of Business. We’re dedicated to supporting all our students in pursuing their career goals. Reach out to us for more information about our number of different career training programs.